- October 22 - Alliance for Justice applauds the senators who voted "No" on cloture today and resisted the Bush administration's push for legislation that caters to big business. The so-called Class Action Fairness Act, S. 1751, would move nearly every state court class action to federal court, making it much harder for defrauded investors, ripped-off consumers, abused workers and victims of toxic pollution to receive justice.
"Today, 39 Senators stood up for ordinary Americans and stood up to the wealthy corporate interests who put tremendous pressure on them to support this harmful legislation," said Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron. "We commend them for their courage and commitment to making sure that victims of corporate wrongdoing have access to their own state courts."
The Class Action Fairness Act is a priority of the Bush-Cheney administration and the business lobby, who hired nearly 500 lobbyists in an attempt to bulldoze the bill through Congress. Disguising the effort as mere court reform to improve the class action process, in fact, S. 1751 does little to ensure that the process is more fair and would actually make the system much more unfair. In addition to stripping state courts of the ability to interpret their own state laws and hear class actions brought by citizens of their own states, there are other provisions in S. 1751 that are detrimental to public interest litigation. For example, the bounty provisions would harm civil rights litigation by not allowing full compensation for the victims of discrimination who step forward to represent the class. Additionally, by sweeping mass torts into the bill's scope, the legislation prevents state courts from hearing individual state law tort suits in cases involving toxic spills, defective medical devices and dangerous drugs.
"Corporate interests want two bites at the apple," said Aron. "They are pushing the Senate to confirm judges that are sympathetic to their interests over those of ordinary people. At the same time, they want to guarantee that their cases will be heard by these same individuals. Senators must remain resolute in their determination to make sure that reforms to the class action process are genuine improvements for all Americans."
Alliance for Justice is a national coalition of more than 65 civil rights, environmental, seniors, consumer and labor organizations. The mission of the Alliance for Justice is to promote a fair and independent judiciary and strengthen public interest advocacy.